By Karlee Simkowskie
What is your Gym status?
There are people out there who are 115% driven all day, every day, to make it to the gym and give it everything they have. Depending on the month and emotional state, even I have fit into that category from time to time. I’ve also been one to say that you can always find time to get a workout in, no matter how busy. But contrary to popular belief, it is okay to take a break.
Of course there are a wide variety of people in the fitness world with all different views on lifting. Some go to the gym as a hobby, to lose weight, feel better, get healthy, socialize, compete, or they work within the field as a personal trainer or coach, to name a few. However, some of us need a reminder that the gym life is not a do or die situation. I know, that sounds extreme, but sometimes it’s important for us to take a step back and not be so hard on ourselves about getting to the gym.
The following stories are about the different stages of Gym in my life. The gym can be a supportive and happy place, but sometimes it gets too needy, lacks emotion, and requires you to take some time away and change your status with Gym.
In a previous article I talked about my years of enrollment in cross country and track and what made me transition sports and enter the weight room. It was soon after getting involved in the lifting world that I started to have all these aspirations and goals. Over time, I became competitive in a wide variety of fitness areas.
At the beginning I started lifting for fun at the local YMCA during my undergraduate years. It was a fun way to get in better shape and I made a lot of new friends that all had similar goals. Heck, if a group of us were all crazy enough to show up daily at 5am to lift weights, we were bound to get along. Not only did recreational lifting keep me busy, but it made me healthier both mentally and physically. Now that I was committed to Gym, there were two things I enjoyed most: first, they say those that train together, stay together, and second, there were endless goal setting possibilities.
In a Relationship with Gym
Going to the gym together as a couple had its benefits, whether it was a couple dating or a couple of friends. Together you are able to motivate one another, support one another, and you’d always have someone there for a spot on the heavy lifts. I enjoyed lifting as a couple, being there for each other’s accomplishments and being able to watch one another grow together.
In terms of goals, the world of lifting has so many options that I found it difficult to choose just one. Initially I began with bodybuilding, and ended up competing in two shows in the bikini class. Even though I enjoyed those competitions, and got in the best aesthetic shape of my life, I soon after switched it up and started training for strongman. Push forward to six months later, I took first at strongman nationals, and was afterwards thinking to myself “what next?” Then an additional half a year later, I decided to make another switch and started training for powerlifting. I only competed once with a group of friends, but was able to break the state deadlift record in my weight class. Once that meet was complete, and after successfully competing in three different areas of lifting, I lost all my motivation and felt I had nothing left to lift for.
It’s Complicated with Gym
There also becomes a time when relationships with Gym don’t work out, and most people don’t often hear how it can become a negative situation. I’ve had my fair share of stories of the gym having a bad effect on my life one way or another. For example, I once dated a guy who put lifting and training as such a high priority in his life that he actually broke up with me so he could only focus on his relationship with Gym. In other situations, I got to the point where I found myself going to the gym no longer because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to, and I started to no longer enjoy my time there.
Over time, I developed the “no excuses” attitude to a fault. Day in and day out I forced myself to put on my workout gear and reluctantly go through the motions, pushing myself through an entire lifting session. Even while taking 27 credits in graduate school. Even when I was spending limited time with family. Even when I was sick. I made myself go visit Gym and get a workout in. It was getting out of hand.
Taking a Break from Gym
After completing my powerlifting competition and finishing a very challenging semester in my doctorate program, I found myself without any new athletic goals and was completely lacking motivation to go see Gym. When I finally took a step back, I realized I was beginning to avoid the gym at any cost. What was the point when my interest level was at a new low? From there, I decided to take a break. I zipped up my gym bag, threw it in the back of my car, and didn’t even touch it for a few weeks.
Instead of stressing about what to lift, when to lift, worrying about my aesthetics, worrying about my strength and what numbers I was hitting, I was able to just… relax. During this time I visited my family and spent quality time with them, instead of driving off by myself to go get a lift in at the local gym. I ate meals with them, and splurged a little, and had a good time helping out in the kitchen instead of making my own separate food that may have been healthier. Instead of focusing on rep maxes and total sets, I spent time outside playing yard games, hiking, biking, and playing with siblings and nephews. Overall, not only was I able to be active outside and spend quality time with family I rarely get to see, but I was able to recharge and think about what I want out of Gym.
My Future with Gym
Let’s be honest, we all want to be active, healthy, goal-driven, and happy. However, sometimes we end up taking those wants to such extremes that what was once good for us, almost becomes a negative instead. I’ve seen too many people lose sight of why they first started their fitness journey, and too often get to the point of over-exercising and under-eating to reach a new status with Gym, to the severity that it is no longer healthy to their physical body or mental well-being. There is always a right and wrong way to reach a goal, but just remember to keep yourself in check.
Take time to take a step back, go through what your priorities are, find what’s important to you, and evaluate if you’re happy with your current Gym status.
I have taken my break, and now am eager and happy to be spending time with Gym like I used to before. Even though I have no major goals in mind, I once again look forward to the simple things I used to love about lifting: being healthy, lifting with friends, new goals, getting fit, and being focused.
Just remember, if you’re in a slump and need a break, that’s okay! Sometimes life gets busy or you need time away, whether it’s a couple of days or a couple of weeks, that’s okay!
Gym will always be there, and will spend time with you when you are ready.
In an open relationship with Gym
~ Karlee Simkowski
Master’s Degree in Human Performance – Applied Sports Science
Currently obtaining Doctorate Degree in Chiropractic
Bikini Bodybuilder, Strong(wo)man & Powerlifting Competitor